The clergy sex abuse scandal that is rocking the Roman Catholic Church around the world is sending shockwaves through the Diocese of Buffalo.
Bishop Richard Malone has been the leader of Western New York’s 600,000 Catholics for the past years.
Malone has come under fire after the Diocese released a list of 42 names of accused priests. A new list which includes more names will be released soon.
In an exclusive interview with News 4, Bishop Malone talked to Don Postles about the message he has for all Western New York residents- and the action he’s taking to end the abuse.
DP: What would allow a priest to stain the soul of a young child?
I have no idea, it may be the sickness we call pedophilia. certainly, there is something evil involved in it. there is no question about that. one way or another this is certainly horrific.
DP: As a father, I would be angered
RM: I have certainly met with parents Don, who have expressed those same sentiments.
DP: Why did it take so long to break the code of silence?
RM: When I arrived in the diocese six years ago, one of the first questions I asked my senior team was, can I be certain that any priest with a substantial allegation of abuse of a minor is off the job.
DP: There are certain people out there- the lieutenant governor, congressmen, deacons- calling for you to resign, how do you prove them wrong?
RM: People need to see, I have apologized for the mistakes I have made in how we handle allegations of clergy being involved with misconduct with an adult. I can say to you with a totally clear conscience Don, and to everyone else I have never ever knowingly or intentionally left a priest in ministry who I knew has abused a child, or moved him from one assignment to another. Never.
RM: When there’s been an adult alleged victim, something egregious- we’ve done that in a quiet way which I believe has been a mistake.
RM: I think we have to remember that one instance of abuse of a child is horrific and sinful and criminal, it is still a very small minority. Remember the great majority of our priests are suffering as the whole community is and that some of their brothers in this terrible behavior.
The sex abuse has forced Pope Francis to call his cardinals and bishops to the Vatican, demanding that the abuse ends and it’s time to cleanse the church of evil. It’s forced two American cardinals to resign in shame- Cardinal Donald Weurl and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
DP: Is this part of what Pope Francis called the cleansing of the church?
RM: I think part of it is and there’s going to be more “call” for bishops to be accountable for these things. From what I’m told, the pope is very concerned and very committed and very upset about the situation and I’m sure we’re going to see some important changes.
With the diocese in turmoil, Bishop Malone held a healing service to pray for the victims of sex abuse by the church.
RM: I began in silence, contrition- also acknowledging the failure of the priests, who abused children and a symbol of guilt and we’d be nothing without god lifting us up and forward. The symbolic mission of guilt.
RM: We have not had one allegation of a child being abused in this time period from 2000 til now in the Diocese of Buffalo. We know that financial compensation doesn’t heal the deep wounds of abuse, but it is a piece of it.
DP: A number of the diocese have gone bankrupt.
RM: We’re not there, we have reserves. The number one damage is the human beings who have gone through this and have been wounded and terribly wounded and their loved ones. That’s number one and kinds of collateral damage, including all of the money that has to be spent- we have to spend it.
The bishop knows it’s going to cost the Buffalo Diocese millions of dollars to victims. That’s why the bishop’s residence on Oakland Place is being sold.
Bishop Malone will be moving to a former convent at St. Stanislaus Church on Buffalo’s East Side.
He pointed to a new program, the Charter to Protect Children and Young People, put together by the U.S. Conference of Bishops.
RM: All children are trained in our Catholic schools and our parish programs to be able to identify signs of impending abuse to know what to do. All these things bear fruit.
RM: I believe we’re doing the right things now to correct the errors and to continue doing the good things that has brought the number of abuse cases to way down low. I just failed with those adults one by not handling them adequately.
DP: Have we left a tear in the eyes of Jesus?
RM: That’s a very powerful way to put it. I’m sure Jesus weeps over what some of his trusted representatives meaning clerics have done to people. For Christians who really believe, we know that this miserable state of affairs does not mean the end of things, that we can rise from this.